by Miller C. Lashbrook
WOW! WOW! WOW!
If you have not already watched Season 4 of Stranger Things, what are you doing? This whole show is one of the best, but this season has to be one of the best seasons of television, ever. The way that all of the cinematic components work together to create a compelling, character-driven story in an increasingly more interesting world cannot be understated for Stranger Things 4. This is streaming television at its finest!
I have so much to say about this season that I am not sure I will be able to contain in one blog post (Maybe I will talk about Stranger Things 4 in-depth on the podcast on episode 5). But, for now, I am going to try to contain my thoughts and organize them based on the four different plotlines depicted on the season poster: Lenora, NINA, Russia, and Hawkins.
Lenora: I think of all four of the major storylines, this was the weakest of the season, mostly because Will, Mike, Jonathan, and Argyle spent a lot of time trying to get caught up on information that the audience and other characters already knew. Johnathan really took a back seat as a character this season, which for his story makes sense. This however allowed him to be greatly overshadowed by the newcomer, Argyle, who stole every scene he was in.
The other primary plot point for me that I enjoyed with this group was the tension in Will and Mike’s friendship, which seemingly is driven by Will’s closeted feelings for Mike, and Mike’s unrequited feelings for him. I know many fans (including myself) have noticed a lot of signs of Will’s closeted sexuality since season one. It can be frustrating that as viewers in a time where representation is still hard to come by to not have explicit representation, but watching Will as a character work to discover who he is in a time and place where he can’t guarantee acceptance is cathartic to this queer person. The speech Will gives to Mike and the conversation with Johnathan in episode eight both brought tears to my eyes, as they reflected on conversations that I had during my coming out journey.
The standout action sequence of this storyline has to be episode four’s single-take shootout in the Byers’s house. Shawn Levy expertly directed this spy-thriller type action scene in a way that was a little funny and a lot tense. His work on this season really showed that he has leveled up as a cinematic director as of late and is ready to direct Deadpool 3.
NINA: This storyline was needed, but dragged for me toward the middle. It mostly kept Eleven benched for the majority of the season and was a way to unveil exposition to the audience. My fiancé pointed out what it reminded me of, and it was Luke going to train on Dagobah in the middle of Empire Strikes Back. He also pointed out that Eleven leaves her training early, like Luke did, when she sensed that her friends were in danger. I am HOPING that we get to see Eleven go ALL OUT with her powers in season five.
Also, giving the show a villain with a face was one of the best choices to really get us invested in the plot though, so claps to introducing One/Henry/Vecna!
Russia: This storyline works because the actors are so amazing! Joyce, Murray, and Hopper are all such great characters, and the way that they were able to have their own adventure but still help with the big finale in the end was so rewarding as a viewer. The comedy that was worked in to this storyline really helped to lighten things at times as well. I will be glad to see these characters rejoin the main plot in season five hopefully. I do hope, however that we have not seen the last of Demetri or Yuri because they were great additions in this season.
Hawkins: This storyline had so many moving parts, but it worked so well! Everybody go time to shine too, which is amazing for a story that was juggling so many characters. Steve is always a great character to watch, though I do wish he would move on from Nancy. Nancy became a Lois Lane/Sarah Conor combination this season and that was awesome to see. Robin is such a sweet character that I want to see happy. Her crush on Vickie was adorable to watch and I hope Vickie becomes part of the group in season five. Lucas struggling with being popular now but hating those people was great. Dustin and Eddie are such a pure pair. Erika is still fantastic. But, the real MVP of this story is of course Max. Max has slowly worked her way up to be one of my favorite characters on this show (for anyone who knows how much I love Jean Grey or Merida, this may not be a surprise). “Running Up that Hill” by Kate Bush will forever be associated with this show in the same way that “Hooked on a Feeling” is connected to Guardians of the Galaxy. All I can say is that Max NEEDS to survive. She is too good a character to lose just before the final season!
This season of Stranger Things was amazing and reminded me of Netflix at its best (which I have questioned recently if it was waning in quality). I will leave you with this, the knowledge that Spotify can make you a playlist of songs to save you from Vecna, because of course!
5/5 Kate Bush Tapes 📼